NFL Predictions

Steve O Speak



1. Dallas Cowboys

2. New York Giants

3. Philadelphia Eagles

4. Washington Redskins

The NFC East should once again be one of the best divisions in football, and likely the most talented division in the NFC. The Cowboys are poised for a huge year, one in which they host the Super Bowl. Giving potential for the first ever home game for a Super Bowl participant. In the end I think they will come up just short of a Super Bowl appearance, they have the talent to make it there. Their offense is one of the best in the league, and that defense can bring pressure from anywhere. They will have to get through a pair of playoff contenders in the Giants and the Eagles and a revitalized Redskins team that likely won’t be the pushover they once were. I think the Giants are poised to rebound in a big way and a double digit win season is likely. Their young receiving corps has shown flashes of brilliance, and should breakout in a big way. Eli Manning is ascending to elite quarterback status, and I’d expect a bounce back year for their running game. The Giants defense let them down last season, but should be vastly improved this year. The Eagles are transitioning to a new quarterback but I wouldn’t expect a drastic drop off in production from McNabb to Kolb. The rest of the offense should be more dangerous now that Maclin and McCoy have a year under their belt. The Eagles offensive line is still a concern, and could be the deciding factor in a playoff spot or not. Philadelphia’s defense can bring the heat, and I’d expect another strong year from this unit. The Washington Redskins no doubt improved themselves in a lot of ways this offseason, but the problem is they had quite a ways to go, and didn’t make the wholesale changes they needed. McNabb is great, but this isn’t the McNabb of Eagles glory (also Jason Campbell wasn’t exactly the issue last season). And while the offensive line and running game improved, the wide receivers took a noticeable decline. On defense the 3-4 looks good on paper and benefits a guy like Brian Orakpo, but it caused a rift with their best defender (Albert Haynesworth), and turned Andre Carter into basically a role player. In the long run it can benefit the Redskins, but in the short term it is just window dressing.


1. New Orleans Saints

2. Atlanta Falcons

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4. Carolina Panthers

The Saints are coming off their Super Bowl win ready to compete again for another title. With Drew Brees at the helm this team can play with anyone. With a deep running back-tight end-receiving corps that is practically impossible for other teams to match up with, the Saints offense should run on all cylinders for another year. Their defense has some questions that could hold them back, but if a couple young guys live up to their potential they should be fine. The Falcons this year should be more of a threat to the Saints but I don’t see them winning the division. A playoff run is possible, but a lot will depend on which Matt Ryan shows up this season. Ryan took a major step back last year, but he still has the talent and ability to become a “Franchise Quarterback”. Atlanta has a vastly underrated defense, that I think will really impress people this season and help lead them to the playoffs. The Buccaneers should be an improved team, but probably won’t have more than 6 wins this season. I am starting to become a Josh Freeman believer, and think he could have a pretty solid season. They are a young club and won’t compete, but a strong year of individual performances could set them up for 2011. The Panthers are a team that really could collapse. They have the best running backs in the league, but that is pretty much where their talent level stops. It is almost a given that the Panthers will have a new head coach next season, and If they start out as bad as I think they will, don’t be shocked if they make some big trades by the deadline. They have a lot of redundant players at RB and along the defensive line that it could make sense to stock pile draft picks for the new regime. Also, I wouldn’t bet against Steve Smith being moved. His contract is fairly reasonable going forward, and there are plenty of playoff caliber teams that will be looking for wideout help. I really expect a bad year in Carolina, but like Tampa they can work on building to the future.


1. Minnesota Vikings

2. Green Bay Packers

3. Chicago Bears

4. Detroit Lions

While the Packers are everyone’s pick this season I’ll have to believe it to see it. For me the Vikings are still the superior team, and that is without Sidney Rice for half of a season. I really don’t know how you pick against Brett Favre as he has time and time again made inferior receivers look better. In addition the Vikings have two major weapons in Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin that are extremely tough for opposing defenses to stop. The o-line is a major worry, but I still think the offense has the talent to succeed. In addition that defense is impressive, they are equally adapt at stopping the run and getting after the passer. Right now their secondary is a little banged up, but should improve throughout the season. The Packers have a great host of offensive weapons led by Aaron Rodgers, but I still worry about that offensive line. They are a bit deeper as a unit so they can handle injuries better, but they have to improve this season if the Packers are to take their game to the next step. While I love their 3-4 defensive line, and Clay Matthews the rest of that linebacking unit is below average. And while their secondary gets a lot of hype they will be without Al Harris for at least half of the season. While Charles Woodson is a stud and i’m a big believer in Morgan Burnett, this ‘strength’ of the Packers defense got TORCHED by Kurt Warner in their playoff game last season. The Bears should be improved some this season, but I really don’t see them as much of a contender. Jay Cutler could put up big numbers in Martz’s system, but I don’t see them really succeeding behind that offensive line. Chicago should be improved on defense, but I wouldn’t call it a difference making unit. It’s hard to really peg where the Bears stand as an organization right now, and this year will be crucial for them. The Lions made some solid moves this offseason, but the question remains if their offensive line can allow the offense to move the ball forward and if quarterback Matt Stafford is ready to take the next step. On defense I’d expect some improvements, but overall it is still a pretty weak unit. Another last place finish and top 10 pick looks to be in the cards for the Lions.


1. San Francisco 49ers

2. Arizona Cardinals

3. Seattle Seahawks

4. St. Louis Rams

The 49ers are the team to beat out West and from the looks of it they won’t have much competition. San Francisco has an impressive offense unit led by RB Frank Gore, TE Vernon Davis, and WR Michael Crabtree. Their offensive line should be vastly improved with the additions of Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati. The real question is at QB where Alex Smith needs to show consistency. The 49ers also need another receiver to step up and take some of the heat off Crabtree/Davis. The talent is there, but it remains to be seen if any of them will become a solid number 2 wide receiver. On defense the 49ers have a top unit one that should shut down even the best offenses in the league. The Cardinals had been the team to beat, but now they are without Kurt Warner and a host of other stars. While they replaced some of them and still have some talented players I don’t see Derek Anderson leading this team to the playoffs. The Seahawks did some nice things this offseason, but this team is practically devoid of offensive weapons. While their defense should be a bit better, I don’t know if they have the talent to even compete with the Cardinals, much less the 49ers. The Rams have their “Franchise Quarterback”, but they really didn’t surround him with the tools to be successful. I think it will be a long, hard year for the Rams offense, and as sad as it sounds that might be their best unit. That defense is incredibly porous and needs a complete overhaul.


1. Vikings

2. Saints

3. Cowboys

4. 49ers

5. Packers

6. Giants

NFC Championship Game: Vikings over the 49ers

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